Futuristic airplane seat sensors can tell when passengers are nervous

We’ve seen a lot of futuristic flying innovations but a new mood sensor designed for passenger seats had us a little jittery just thinking about it.

Whether you’re a nervous wreck at 30,000 feet or an unruffled frequent flier, a new app called FlightBeat will let everyone know. Using sensors built into passenger seats, the app is designed to monitor a passenger's heart rate throughout the flight. If someone is getting sick or is stressed out, the chair sends data to a smart tablet to alert a flight attendant.  The idea is to enable the flight crew to anticipate the needs of a distressed passenger and help them faster.

The project is the result of a joint partnership between KLM flight attendants, students at Delft University of Technology and Zodiac Aerospace, a French company that supplies airline equipment. Zodiac engineer Stefan Berghuijs consulted with students on ways to improve air travel in the future and FlightBeat was born, reports Huffington Post. Though airlines have no current plans to install the sensors in airplane seats, Berghuijs was pleased with the innovation.

"When you share your emotional status with the cabin crew, they can provide you better service," the engineer told Huffington Post. Plus, with the ability to proactively anticipate anxious passenger needs, the technology could help prevent costly emergency landings or other medical issues aboard a flight.

But is monitoring someone’s heart rate in real time sound a little too much like Big Brother watching?

To alleviate any concerns, the app proposal permits plane passengers to opt out of sharing information with crew if so desired. But Berghuijs thinks that any benefits would eventually outweigh passenger privacy concerns.

"Managing your personal health is getting more common and accepted," he told Huffington Post. "People will get more used to this technology over time."